by Petr Hruška
Translated from the Czech by Jonathan Bolton
The Silent One
as learned people call it,
the sudden loss of speech.
From one day to the next,
a person presses his hands to his body,
his mouth turns into a line,
he no longer gives out a word,
or even a sigh.
Instead of laughter, and then only rarely,
there is a mute grin,
crying without tears.
He doesn’t even talk in his sleep.
In the midst of others, he stands
like a fright or a threat.
The doctors say not to pressure him,
so the others
mainly just turn up the volume,
waving their hands,
speaking now more vehemently, and more often,
speaking for him as well.
Mlčící (from the collection Darmata, 28)
Take off the shoe.
It’s the last children’s size.
The instructions on the glue bottle
are printed in tauntingly small type –
you’ll have to read them.
over the filthy wet shoe.
We’ll roughen the surface of the rubber
and let the chemical process go to work inside the split.
You should realize
that our bodies, too, are made of oxygen and carbon
from ancient stars.
Distant, solitary stars.
You talk about Mom.
So put your finger on the loop,
we’ll use the shoelaces to pull the glued-on sole tight.
The night zooming by,
the crazily bound shoe.
The last children’s size.
Bota (from the collection Darmata, 14)
As if it were an old Dutch painting
he sees, through an open door,
another open door
and only then
part of a woman’s figure
standing on cold tiles,
bent, persisting, over
a motionless rivulet
of household water
Průhled (from the collection Darmata, 49)